In an exclusive interview, former FBI director James Comey told DW's Conflict Zone that despite his career in law enforcement, he doesn't draw "the darkest inference" about US President Donald Trump's vehement denials of collusion with Moscow.
"The fact that someone acts this way doesn't necessarily mean that they're guilty of something," Comey told DW. "It could just be this president's lifelong habit of attacking, attacking, attacking when he feels threatened. But I don't know what it is, honestly."
When asked whether he felt like he might get "tainted" by remaining in the Trump administration, Comey said that although there was potential for that, "I thought that was my duty."
"The nature of the president actually increased my commitment to stay in my role and serve and protect the FBI and the American people," Comey said.
"I knew it was going to be hard. I knew there were going to be all kinds of difficult situations, but I thought what a coward I would be to walk away from that when I'm supposed to be leading an organization that's, by spirit and culture, independent."
US President Donald Trump fired James Comey as FBI director, saying he "was not able to effectively lead the bureau"
Comey was nominated in 2013 by former US President Barack Obama to head the FBI, the US principal federal law enforcement agency.
He rose to notoriety in 2016 when he famously announced that the FBI had found no evidence of criminal intention during Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server during her stint as state secretary.
Clinton later blamed him for losing the election after he sent lawmakers a letter 11 days before the vote, informing them that the FBI had found new emails deemed "pertinent to the investigation" He later said no evidence had been uncovered that could incriminate Clinton.
In May 2017, Trump fired Comey in a move that was criticized as potentially undermining a probe into Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. Critics have accused him of harming the FBI's credibility, which he has denied.
In DW's Conflict Zone episode with James Comey set to air next week, the former FBI director talks about those challenges and more.
The seventh in a lineage of FBI directors with law degrees, James Comey has shaped politics in the US as the head of the law enforcement agency. But who is the man behind the headlines? From prosecuting an American celebrity to refusing to sanction the NSA's mass surveillance program, DW explores the contentious life of James Comey.
Serving as Manhattan's chief federal prosecutor, Comey rose to notoriety in 2002, when he led the prosecution of US celebrity Martha Stewart for securities fraud and obstruction of justice. Stewart, widely known in the US for her cooking and lifestyle shows, served a 5-month jail sentence following the highly-publicized case.
In late 2003, Comey was confirmed as the US deputy attorney general, making him the second-highest-ranking official in the Justice Department. Serving under former President George W. Bush, Comey endorsed a memorandum approving the use of 13 enhanced interrogation techniques during the War on Terror, including waterboarding. He later said he lobbied to have the policy toned down.
Comey has warned of the consequences of domestic mass surveillance, saying in March: "There is no such thing as absolute privacy in America." While serving as acting attorney general during the hospitalization of John Ashcroft in 2004, he refused to endorse the legality of the NSA's domestic surveillance program, even when pressured by the Bush administration.
In 2013, then-President Barack Obama nominated Comey to serve as the seventh director of the FBI. He received the nomination despite being a registered member of the Republican party. Later that year, he received congressional approval to takeover the office. In his installation speech, he said the bureau's work is founded on integrity. "Without integrity, all is lost," he said.
In 2015, Comey penned an op-ed on why he required new FBI special agents and intelligence analysts to visit the Holocaust Museum in Washington. He said the reason was to have them understand the consequences of abusing power and to be confronted by the atrocities humans are capable of. "I believe that the Holocaust is the most significant event in human history," he said.
In July 2016, Comey announced that the FBI had found no evidence of criminal intention in Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server as state secretary. But days before the presidential election, he issued a letter to lawmakers informing them of new emails deemed "pertinent to the investigation." He later said no evidence was uncovered. Clinton has since blamed Comey for losing the election.
On May 9, Trump sent Comey an unusual letter firing the FBI director, cutting short his 10-year mandate to lead the bureau. Given the ongoing FBI-led investigation into election-meddling by Russia, critics have warned that the move may amount to obstruction of justice for undermining the probe. Trump later appeared to threaten Comey over the existence of "tapes" of their conversations.
Comey reportedly kept memos of interactions between him and President Donald Trump, which appear to implicate the head of state in attempts to obstruct a federal probe into Russia's alleged involvement in influencing the 2016 election. The day after US media reported on the existence of the memos, the Justice Department named a special counsel to lead the probe amid fears of White House influence.
In June 2017, shortly after being fired, Comey testified in Congress that he believed Trump fired him over the Russia probe. "I was fired in some way to change, or the endeavor was to change, the way the Russia investigation was being conducted," he told lawmakers. He has since released a book, in which he described Trump as a "mafia boss" who is "untethered to the truth."
Author: Lewis Sanders IV
A mass shooting researcher discusses how a shooter's history can push people to commit mass killings. USA TODAY
A FBI truck sits in front of the church while investigators worked at the scene of a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Tex. The FBI had access to the shooter's cell phone but couldn't access its contents.(Photo: EPA-EFE/LARRY W. SMITH)
As mass shootings filter in and out of the news cycle at an almost dizzying pace with each new tragedy, the FBI has continued to probe why these atrocities continue and what can be done to stop them.
In a new report released Wednesday, the bureau shed light on behaviors of shooters before they acted out, finding most obtained a gun legally and did not have diagnosed mental health issues, points that run contrary to some popular beliefs.
Active shooting incidents have continued to plague the nation but last year, there were 30 incidents across the U.S. — the highest number since the FBI began tracking the phenomenon. Last year also broke a record for the highest death toll in any single year.
"Faced with so many tragedies, society routinely wrestles with a fundamental question: can anything be done to prevent attacks on our loved ones, our children, our schools, our churches, concerts and communities?" the study says. "There is cause for hope because there is something that can be done."
The 30-page report examines active shooter incidents from 2000 to 2013 and suspects in 63 cases, finding suspects showed signs before they attacked but law enforcement wasn't notified in more than half the cases until it was too late.
Forty percent of suspects purchased a firearm or multiple guns legally for the sole purpose of an attack. Another 35 percent already legally owned a gun before planning an attack, meaning 75 percent of active shooter incidents reviewed by the FBI legally owned the gun they used in the attack.
The remaining suspects stole, borrowed or purchased a weapon illegally.
The FBI could only verify that 25 percent of the gunmen examined in the study had any type of mental illness diagnoses, including disorders affecting mood, anxiety and personality.
The study noted, although, that a large portion of shooters, about 62 percent, were dealing with stressors in their lives such as depression, anxiety and paranoia before their attack.
Those symptoms don't mean the suspect was necessarily dealing with a mental illness and the conclusion that all active shooters are mentally ill is both "misleading and unhelpful," the bureau said.
"In light of the very high lifetime prevalence of the symptoms of mental illness among the U.S. population, formally diagnosed mental illness is not a very specific predictor of violence of any type, let alone targeted violence," the study says. "Careful consideration should be given to social and contextual factors that might interact with any mental health issue before concluding that an active shooting was 'caused' by mental illness."
Follow Christal Hayes on Twitter: Journo_Christal
Australia hasn't had a fatal mass shooting since 1996. Here's what changed about the country's gun laws.
Read or Share this story: <a href="https://usat.ly/2K1KFuM" rel="nofollow">https://usat.ly/2K1KFuM</a>